Chef Kali Matson of Caffe Niche is faced with a unique but exciting food challenge every day. Every morning she is tasked with creating a new recipe for the daily seasonal vegetable small plate. The base ingredients for the small plates are determined by what fresh vegetables the local farmers have delivered. “Often I receive produce that was picked within the last hour,” states Kali.
Kali, the youngest of four siblings, has been cooking since she was 10 years old. It started when she cooked her family spaghetti, after which her aunt signed her up for cooking classes. Later in life, Kali ended up training at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Shortly after, she traveled to Italy to continue her culinary education and began working in a family restaurant in Tuscany. To this day, fresh pasta is her favorite dish to cook.
Just over a year ago, Kali joined Caffe Niche’s staff and became the head chef. When asked what she likes the most about Caffe Niche, Kali will tell you that she loves the staff and their mission to use local products and ingredients. She also enjoys building relationships with the local farmers.
Some of the farms that supply Niche are these:
Backyard Urban Gardens (BUG Farms) http://www.backyardurbangardens.com/
Mountain Valley Seed https://www.mvseeds.com/
New Roots http://www.rescue.org/new-roots
Parker Farms Produce http://www.parkerfarmsproduce.com/
The day I visited Kali at Niche, she was given beautiful purple snow peas from New Roots. “Sometimes when dining out, it is good to try something you may not have seen at your store,” Kali explains. Inspired by the color and freshness of the peas, Kali created two preparations. The first was a purple snow pea and cucumber salad with a ginger dressing, and the second was roasted purple snow peas in sesame oil with chili flakes.
Caffe Niche is a notable restaurant for its use of fresh local ingredients in simple, healthful food preparations that highlight the ingredients and natural flavors. Like Niche, rising numbers of restaurants in Salt Lake are bringing our food production and consumption closer together. When dining at these restaurants, you are helping our local farmer, the environment, and the economy.